One more autumn leaf
So we try again
and again and...
Not to let that last leaf fall
We stick it up
We tie it up
We hold it up
We wish it up...
It still droops
It still falls
The life inside is gone
How long do you hold it up?
We question, what is that life?
when did it go?
what makes that life?
He sat chanting the mantras
Loud, clear, booming.
Echoing around the room.
Peace, Serenity, in spite
of the pain and tears.
The mantras did not reach them
"Cover your head"
"Throw it this way"
"Not the right, the left"
Peace, Serenity vanished.
The ritual over.
The pundit looks up and says,
"Let the good words in,
Let the bad words out"
and turns to look at me.
So much meaning in those words
So much care in those looks
Care as a human soul for another.
Balm for the wound.
God comes to life.
The body is gone.
Maybe the soul lingers
To watch the tears
To watch the pain
To watch the sorrow.
Some speechless in sorrow
Tears well up and dry
Well up again and dry again
The loss permanent, irreversible,
Others vocal about the rightness of the ritual
The mantra doesn't reach the soul.
The ritual rules, the body rules.
The essence non-existent,
The spirit non-existent.
The fire burns, the woods crackle
The tears can't smother the fire.
The fragrance no match for the heat.
Mace, Sandalwood, Cardamom, Ghee, Clove
Burns and burns, till none remains.
The hours pass unnoticed
The chants reverberate
The mind numbs to the pain
Thoughts cease. Feelings cease.
The chants overpower all.
The distance between the two worlds
An evening muse
So yes, I write because I cannot but - When I do not I have withdrawal symptoms :)
This happened sometime back, but I feel like keeping it here as I cherish the memory of it. Our usual bed time talks led us to little A saying "I gave S half my Milo bar but she didn't give me more of her sandwich..." Big A answers, "When you give, you don't expect anything back. If you expect - that's trading, not giving."
Little A looked stumped :)
Too quick too fast
Right after my post yesterday came the news of cancer again.
My friend and someone I feel close to - whether she does or not, is immaterial to me. I do. Someone younger than me. Someone with beautiful children, beautiful simple family. Touched by the C word.
I still cannot talk or think about it without choking.... and I wonder when will it come even nearer.
It is the easiest cancer - best success rate - should be no worry....and yet why can I not digest it?
The end result is not the only thing. It is the journey, it is the path - ahh, how long and how painful and how life-changing it is.... There is no fun, there is no joy, all that you have and need is "grit" "grit" grit" with loads of faith.
I feel like the senseless animal who wants to just ask - why? Why she? Why them? I tell myself "it's ok" and something inside me cries out 'how is it ok?'
I know I will feel better. I know they will be fine. I know life will go on. I know they will emerge stronger.
That same feeling of the silent volcanic eruption which shakes up the whole system. Tomorrow will look better.
An end and a start
Another year passed by, another year began. I guess old people talk like this. If this is a necessary and sufficient condition, I am old - as those words came to my mind as soon as I opened my thoughts to a title for the first post of the year..
But I feel young. I feel happy.
I have not worked to keep myself feeling young but I have worked really hard to keep myself happy. So yay to me :)
I talked (including electronic talk like email, sms, whatsapp) to most of the people who make me feel happy, who bring out the positive in me. I tried not to let my unhappiness spill over to the ones forced to be near and close to me :) I found myself a new task and challenge (learning cycling at this very young age ;) and I am super excited with the progress and my commitment to it. Soon I will have a more boring post on that :)
My first week of the year went well. Happy new year!
A visit to Willing Hearts
A few hands, a few chops, a few hours
off the idle days;
What a lot of difference to those who have
no hands to feed them anymore.
Winter in Singapore
is indicated by a slight chill as early as 5.30am. The sun on my balcony moved at an angle. It streamed in at 9am earlier and now it is smiling at 8.30am due to the changed angle. The sun never came from the west before, but now the afternoons are brighter. The sun "shines" on the leaves and does not glare at them. The grass in the morning is mistier.
The midday still scorches :)
Interesting conversation I had with the big A last night. It made us all sleep late - but astute observation nevertheless.
He said, while comparing FIS with his new school, here there are more principles like resilience, care, collaboration, service, etc and the children are so mindful of that, they are not natural. They don't laugh at naturally funny stuff because that may violate one of the principles. They are like robots. In the previous school they laughed when some one said "nins and peedles" but when I laughed here, none of the other children did. They did not find it funny. They all behave in the same way. In FIS, the children were all different.
I said, in other words you are telling me here the children are moulded in a particular way? It is interesting you say that because lot of studies believe that schools are a mechanism of 'brain washing' (for the lack of a better word).
I tried not to look astounded.
Both As back from camp.
Aarushi after 2 days (1 night) and Arunav after 5 days. Both crashed to sleep. Both could not stop talking :)
A Happy 10th Birthday
A birthday so different and so fulfilling. Surrounded by new kids so welcoming and open - they beat hands down the ones who knew him for 6 years..... 6 looong years. The words "Hey Arunav it's your bday, you need to be in the middle." "Arunav is the star today - woohoo" "Cool Ved, your team has 47 - don't worry we will get there" and many more such friendly exchanges - children so natural, children so like children.
A decision made. A decision final. Have never seen him happier.
Kids in the newland
While this old hag misses her old setting and comfort zone, the kids so far are having a blast in their new environment.
They had 3 birthday parties since they came here. They had no playdates, but they played with friends every morning and afternoon. They played (with children) more in the last 15 days than they have played in the last 2 years in Hong Kong. They swim, they skate, they cycle and they seem to really like it here.
Let's hope it will carry to school. Let's hope the biggest factor will be in favour of them. The rest will fall in place. The rest can remain.
Migration without change
The sunset that is never ending
The price that one never stops paying;
The listless, dry haze that covers the day,
Is more painful than one can say.
The faces changed; the little door became big
The smiles vanished; the expressions more tight-lipped.
The heat surged in. The winter went.
Still it is more painful than one can say.
The girls dance to the music and laugh
The carefree laughter, the sound... so alien
The little boy turns and looks up
The crease of the smile is also painful to say.
Acceptance, tolerance - two things more valuable than one can say.
The quiet one
The one whose name is not always splashed in the news...be it newspaper or newsletters. She steals the show quietly or so the teachers said :) It always brings a smile. Lucas' mamma said, "L told my husband. You can beat me in chess but not Aarushi - no one can beat her. She is the best." And poor Aarushi - at home she is mostly always beaten by Arunav - so no wonder she likes playing only in school, not at home :)
The French teacher said," I don't always say this of children - but she is really talented in language - she is brilliant." For at least a year she will have to give up French for Mandarin. I felt guilty I do not end up giving much time to her - but may be that is working to her benefit !
She has a sleepover with her best best friend and she is over the moon. I hope she does not miss us. I want her to enjoy and be happy fully. Till the cup overflows...
Demenager: on the moving of the display cabinet
A young man, with a slight bend, body thin and stripped of fat with a smile showing nearly all the partly yellowed teeth, a smile that wrinkled the eyes.
An old man, straight as a stick, equally thin and stripped of fat with a smile showing very few teeth, the ones left are equally yellowed, a slight smile not reaching the eyes.
They lifted the heavy cupboard with ease, talked about how they can improvise to make things easy. Took out a bundle of ropes, tied them around the dismantled doors to give them a hold. And many such tiny improvisations making a Herculean task so easy....
The sharpness of the brain when we are surrounded by need and resource constraint, is a marvel to watch. That's what human beings are designed for. That's how we thrive. Not in the couches, not in the comfort, not with affluence. The comforts rot us, strips us of the richest resource we have, our intelligence. The brain clouds in the comfort, the brain degenerates and disappears in the talks of Louis Vuitton bags or the Lamborghinis.
To be in the mud and not be muddied is the challenge.
The last one
Arunav in the media again
Kelly Yang said to the person with the camera, "Please record this. This boy has won the Spellbulary 3 years in a row and no one could beat him. Outstanding performance."
When Arunav told her he will be leaving for Singapore - she said they will miss him and now others have a chance to win. Arunav was all smiles.
So that's the end of the Spellbulary run :) He finished with the word "ambidextrous".
As we sat in the MTR on the way to Chai Wan, I asked Arunav - do you want to go through the books in the Kindle? He looked at me and said quietly, "No, no need. We are definitely going to win." I was surprised at his quiet confidence when the teachers and other team members said their opponent is strong and is likely to win.
Arunav was right, FIS won!
His team members came and told me "Thank God Arunav was in our team, he was the star! We would have soooo lost otherwise."
Again sitting in the MTR on our way back, I asked him how he was so confident of winning. He smiled contentedly and said, "Because I could remember every page of every book like a picture."
A flutter created by a single phrase "we are leaving"
The shower of love and affection before a goodbye.
The invitations to make sure the friendship lingers.
Lunches, dinners, teas and many more.
The scramble for time, the feeling to know
you made a difference to so many.
The few words to say 'please take care'
'I cannot believe', 'I wish that is not true'
In spite of the real world life where
moving is more real than staying.
So there is meaning in what they say.
There is a little pain and love.
Some looks without words; the silence
when the words are uttered, speak more.
So long then.
It's a boring world, with no goodbyes
It's a boring world, with constant virtual connection.
Yet, it matters.
That's the question
The questions keep coming back to me. S asked, why do you never consider going back to corporate job when you still are wanted there?
It is difficult to explain the depths of yourself.
The perfectionist me, the "go getter" me cannot balance. The temptations of excelling, of doing more, of the joy of overcoming boundaries.... blinds me towards the other side. When I turn, I find the waters have flown, the moments are gone, the damage is done. I promised myself to resist and I resist till date. That's a lot of feelings, emotions, experiences and tears summarized in a few words which cannot show the depth.
Learning and thankfulness
and yet again I realize and remind myself, we learn all our lives. We never finish learning - no matter what our age....
and thanks to you dear friend who I name not but who touched me so today, by her kind words, by her support and strength....
to help me look into the "next step", to swallow the present and take action....
life's worth living because of you, life still makes one smile because of you....
you will not see this for you don't even know this exists, but it is always the thoughts that matter....
the thoughts show in some way or the other, to one's who look for the thoughts beyond the words, for the feelings behind the face....
words are so helpless, words are so limited for the thoughts and feelings such friends invoke, the best word is still that embrace.
Dare to live
It is risky to go out today
The balance is still not there
The brain may still be fuzzy
Is what the smiling nurse said.
But the sky is beautiful
The air is crisp
All looks lovely
Who can stop me from taking that risk?
Risks never bothered me
I took one like a fool
At every possible chance.
I regret some
I am proud of some
That is always how life's run.
On watching the lunchbox
The hurts and the pains.
The hard crystals that stay within,
hurting every moment, yet part of life;
All melt into tears listening to short little
phrases uttered in another space,
in another moment, in another occasion.
A few words, a few thoughts
with the power of rain
on a land of droughts.
Happy Holi in Hong Kong - it was the first day when jackets could be taken off. Perfect for Holi colours - though it was not warm enough for water play. The kids were thrilled - could not stop laughing and giggling :)
Who rocks the cradle?
It is not me
It is you.
You carry yourself
to places far and beyond;
Where you dare to go
Where you dare to be.
It is you,
It is not me.
I don't deserve credit for
the accolades you earn.
I just feel happy for you.
I am happy to be happy for you.
It is not me.
It is always you.
The chess season
Arunav got a medal for being one of the top 6 players in the tournament out of 246 players from all over Hong Kong. He had not been playing for long but from last week he worked hard for 3 days and got rewarded.
He had super fun in the school camp too. Rock climbing, raft building, shelter building - it seemed a dream for us who never had such stuff in school.
Over the moon
describes what Aarushi was when her name was announced as the female champion in the age 7-8 category. I would have been too if I ever got such a huge trophy for anything! What a lucky girl she is! I must give her credit for doing pretty well considering she turned 7 just a week back to get into the older category, and so all her competitors were much older than her.
She cannot stop smiling since yesterday and I can't help smiling at her super-glad face :)
The magic of Harry Potter....
....is infectious to say the least. It ruled Aarushi's party like no royalty ever did. So we had Mrs. Weasley's home made cookies, Gillyweed, Nagini's venom, Wormwood, Sorting hat cupcakes, Olivander's wands, Divination tower and what not... It was so much fun!
The muggle mom is actually very tempted to read the fat books. What a mind to create such wonder!
The thinker, the philosopher
It takes many sorrows to reach happiness.
It takes many a cry to appreciate laughter.
"Mamma, I first understood feelings
When I felt very hurt not when I was very happy."
A child's utterance of a philosophy so deep.
The doctor asked, "Is he a thinker?"
A thinker he is.
A philosopher he may be.
A human with a big heart
he certainly will always be.
are definitely a blessing and if they happen to be older, it is a tale of pampering that others envy!
Aarushi was the most pampered being a girl and the youngest. She would show her anger and be coaxed and cuddled before she yielded, she would ride on their shoulders and she spent half the holiday being carried around (all ok, so long as it's not me who has to carry her!).... Arunav was less pampered and felt disappointed but he did get away punching the brothers in all sorts of ways and having fierce pillow fights! What a pleasure it was. The cousins are tall but not mentally that old :), which of course aided the process!
The new year
started in the TMC BMT unit. She was shaved, lying flat covered by a warm blanket and S unshaven, in half shirt doing his karma on the narrow bed beside her. Her eyes were calmer than before...the day she left home. It is over, she has done it. But so much remains, the consequences, the pain, all remain. Yet she seemed calm.
Does she know the enormity of what she is going through? The doctors have told her all yet she seems to ignore details and accept the decisions of others in the way ahead. Perhaps in that faith and acceptance lies her strength. Yet she is so fragile, so scared - the fear was visible that day she left. But she has done it. How different strength is from what many people think it to be. The garrulous smiling woman who is scared to cross the road, who shivered at the sight of a needle, does not fit the image - but she has shown herself to be stronger than most of us.
One learns every moment, every day.
Like a mist, fragile, elusive
A constant struggle to capture the reality
The underlying reality of that faith
Gone the moment it seems it is there.
But that moment.
A single moment when you have it
The peace, the bliss, the strength.
Gone the moment it seems it is there.
So two months of grind is over. As I pressed the send button, I still wondered, if there was a box numbered wrong, but I forced myself to stop thinking and collapse.
C'est fini.... till I start working on the next again.
A baby and a lullaby
This I need to record before my tired brain throws it away. As I kept typing pages after pages arguing and cross arguing about educational equity, looking haggard and drained out, Aarushi came very quietly and whispered in my ears, "Mama, if you have another baby, can I sing the song "Bedtime for Toys" and put her (yes, 'her') to sleep ?"
Those are the moments for which God has gifted us with children.
Research and some more
The joy of cracking the data
the joy of powerful writing
the joy of reading super rhetoric
the joy of dsicovery
the joy of originality
the joy of 'not just duty'....
.... the fatigue of 20 hours a day
the teas and the sweets and the fats
the missed times with kids
the missed hikes
the missed calls home
the missed dinners, parties and friends.
I am almost there.
has totally taken over our house. The kids woke up at 5.30am (no, not for any sane schedule reason - but the bubbling excitement inside would not let them sleep!!) to paint Halloween spiders, black cats, ghosts and ghouls and you-name-it with "glow in the dark" paint...
I slept at 3 after working on my submission and at 5.15am I was woken up by whispering Arunav, "Mamma can I go and check the time?" - why whisper!
Believe me, kids' excitement is so genuine, so sparkly that it is infectious and before long I found myself digging up orange and black playdoh to make halloween pumpkins and sticking them over our door. MEd thesis just does not have that charm.
In the meantime, Aarushi also announced she would not get married because she just will not know how to go around "I don't know the roads! I can't get lost with them, so I cannot marry, unless I make the guy do all that work." Unbeatable robust reasoning!!
Aarushi's story.. written and typed by her
Lyvia and the magnificent swan
Once upon a time, in a large clearing lived a
poor family, called the Nace family. In the family there were: one mother, one
father, three sisters and one baby. The first sister was called Lyvia and she
was nine. The second sister was called Glarentine, the short form was Tine, and
she was seven. The third sister was called Jessica and she was five. Their baby
brother was twelve months old. Their mother was called Nancy and their father
was called Fred.
One day, in the dark of the night, Lyvia,
Glarentine and Jessica sat wide awake in bed. “I know we’ll go out for a stroll
in the night” suggested Lyvia. “I agree with Lyvia’’ came Jessica’s voice out
of the dark room. “We might see some ducks floating in the lake’’ agreed
Glarentine. “We’ll need to leave quietly though” whispered Lyvia. As silently
as a mouse, the three girls crept out of the door. The whole clearing was
silent. The three friends started making their way through the cold night air.
They had walked for hours and their legs were tired because of the walk but
they urged their legs on. Soon Jessica let out a small agonised cry. Glarentine
and Lyvia stopped walking immediately. Jessica lay sprawled among the grass. A
rock was beneath her. ‘‘I’ll stay with you’’said Glarentine immediately as her
eye caught Jessica’s bleeding knee.’’I’ll carry on’’ said Lyvia. Lyvia hadn’t
been walking for a long time, when a pretty lake came into sight. There was a
magnificent swan floating gracefully on the lake. Lyvia wished that her parents
had more money so that they could take her, Glarentine and Jessica to
mysteriously there was a brilliant, blinding flash of red light and suddenly a
small pile of money appeared in front of Lyvia. Belwildered, Lyvia picked it up. She
walked back to Jessica and Glarentine, still puzzled. Jessica had a knee bandaged
with leaves and vines. She told them what had happened… “A pile of gold coins appeared
in front of me,” she finished, gesturing towards the gold in her hands. Lyvia
put the money in the treasure chest in their playroom. After that they went
back to bed and fell asleep, thinking about their adventure.
The next morning, Lyvia went to her parents and
showed them her money which she had got the previous day. To her surprise the playroom
was full of money. Finally Lyvia, Glarentine and Jessica were able to go to
Disneyland and stay in a hotel there.
Post script: Aarushi has been wanting to go to Disneyland hotel 'again' for the longest time and we have been telling her it's too costly specially because we stay in Hong Kong. I don't think we have a choice after this - we have to make it on her 7th birthday :)
Many good things
makes us all happy.
It is school holiday. Kids are at home, eating breakfast in the bed with the sun streaming down their backs. Then they make sour candies at home and lap it all up :)
THE professor told me my presentation of my dissertation was so good that it is worth publishing if I am willing and he does not easily throw empty compliments for encouragement nor make empty promises. That boosted my spirits to work for my dissertation which has been lying in a dusty corner as I run around with kids. But who do I share the satisfaction with - N, the lady far from the other side of the world who is as strong as any woman I have seen before. She was more excited and impressed than I was, 'Shu this was brilliant - pls work on your dissertation - send me after you write a section and I will help you with it.' What a woman! (Not because she offered me invaluable help, but I know what load she has being a doctorate student, mother of a 2-year old and father living elsewhere)
Aarushi stunned me again by solving almost all of her brother's maths homework - she mentally solved 1.28*4 in less than 30 secs. I always thought maths was not her forte.
She was upset with me yesterday for not giving her any work just like I give 'dada'. She got onto her desk angrily and started writing in a copy. She ended up writing a lovely girly story about Lyvia and the magnificent swan, which I will surely put here another day!
Life is good when kids have holiday :) but I still have a choice to make. So should I publish -should I pick up the platter in front?
So this mother sitting outside with me casually said, 'The ratio of intake is 2:1 for boys to girls'.
It favoured A, but I was surprised at the ratio. That seemed quite skewed to me. If anything, it should have been the other way round considering the performance of girls in academics recently. It did not sound right to me. On hearing me she very firmly said, ' But boys are smarter than girls - girls are more well rounded in development, but boys are smarter.'
That was quite a statement. I never was brought up believing such a myth and yet the conviction in her voice and the deliberation by a well reputed government agency was quite astounding to me. It reminded me of the bengali lady long time back who very convincingly told me the same - 'chheleder buddhi to onek beshi, onko te to meyera onek pichhiye' - huh?!
I know at least 3 girls who were way ahead of 200 boys learning in the same maths class - whither 'Shakuntala Devi'? .... Averages are rubbish when it comes to predicting individual performance - how can they generalize? Maybe they do not, maybe the statistics is revealing only 'averages' - but a fixed ratio as skewed as 2:1, is not an accidental occurrence - it is deliberate manipulation!
was a question a very upset Aarushi asked me.
I said, 'well it may be because it is a survival skill you need to learn so you don't die by drowning - you know 3/4th of the earth is water, right?'
Still frowning,'I will never go near sea.'
Me: 'what if the plane crashes?'
A: I will never go on vacation or in a plane
Me: What if there is a tsunami?
A: I will die anyway - no one can swim in tsunami!
Oh dear.... finally logical thinking gave way and I am guilty of bribing her with a lollypop after swim. From all my parenting learnings in workshops and books, I have leapfrogged into the sweet world of "whatever works" - and yes, I do mean the word "leapfrogged" - it is an advancement - huff!
The beautiful pool
The water was cool, fresh and soothing. The time was just right. The moment was captured. We climbed the rocks. Took a dip. The water washed away the little blood from the little cut from the little slip that A had.
The autumn's mellowed sun, the heat of the walk, the shade of the trees, the cool of the running mountain water, the quiet of the mountains, the excitement of kids as they explored, tried, overcame little obstacles.
Is the 'bliss of solitude'.
A walk too long
One which we thought would be just 5.5 km and it turned out to be near 10km! Poor kids. Pool fun like this in between saved us from a crash.